|Evander Holyfield vs. Lou Savarese, El Paso Texas, June 30, 2007, photograph by John Kloepper|
Evander Holyfield (born October 19, 1962) is an American professional boxer. He is a former Undisputed World Champion in both the cruiserweightand heavyweight divisions, earning him the nickname “The Real Deal.” After winning the bronze medal in the Light Heavyweight division at the 1984 Summer Olympics, he debuted as a professional at the age of 21.
Holyfield moved to the cruiserweight division in 1985 and won his first title the following year, when he defeated Dwight Muhammad Qawi for the WBACruiserweight belt. He would then go on to defeat Ricky Parkey and Carlos De Leon to win the Lineal, IBF and WBC titles, becoming the Undisputed Cruiserweight Champion. Holyfield moved up to heavyweight in 1988, defeating Buster Douglas for the The Ring, Lineal, WBC, WBA and IBF titles in 1990.
Evander Holyfield holds other notable victories over fighters such as; George Foreman, Larry Holmes, Riddick Bowe, Ray Mercer, Mike Tyson (x2),Michael Moorer, John Ruiz, Michael Dokes and Hasim Rahman. Holyfield is the only 4-time World Heavyweight Champion, winning the WBA, WBC, and IBF titles in 1990, the WBA and IBF titles in 1993 and the WBA title in 1996 and 2000.
Holyfield moved up to heavyweight in 1988, winning his first six fights, all by stoppage. On October 25, 1990, Holyfield knocked out Heavyweight Champion James “Buster” Douglas to claim theWBC, WBA, IBF & The Ring Heavyweight titles. He retained the Heavyweight crown three times, which included victories over former champions George Foreman and Larry Holmes, before suffering his first professional loss to Riddick Bowe on November 13, 1992. Holyfield regained the title in a rematch one year later, beating Bowe by majority decision for the WBA and IBF titles. Holyfield later lost the titles to Michael Moorer on April 22, 1994 by majority decision.
Holyfield was forced to retire in 1994, only to return a year later. On November 9, 1996, he went on to defeat Mike Tyson by eleventh round technical knockout to win the WBA title, in what was named fight of the year and upset of the year for 1996 by The Ring magazine. Evander Holyfield became the first Heavyweight since Muhammad Ali to win the World title three times. Seven months later, Holyfield won the 1997 rematch against Tyson, when the latter was disqualified in round three for biting off part of Holyfield’s ear. During his reign as champion, he also avenged his loss to Michael Moorer, when he stopped him in eight rounds to win the IBF belt.
In 1999, he faced Lennox Lewis in a split draw, but was defeated in a rematch eight months later. The following year, he won a unanimous decision over John Ruiz for the vacant WBA Heavyweight Championship, becoming the first boxer to win a version of the heavyweight title four times. Holyfield would lose a rematch with Ruiz seven months later and would face him for the third time in a draw.
Holyfield is still an active boxer as of 2012 and has a professional record of 44 wins, 10 losses, 1 draw and 1 no contest. He is ranked #77 on Ring Magazine‘s list of 100 greatest punchers of all time. Evander Holyfield is ranked as the Greatest Cruiserweight of all time by The Boxing Scene. Holyfield is considered one of the greatest Heavyweights of all time by many.
Evander Holyfield was born on October 19, 1962, in the mill town of Atmore, Alabama. The youngest of nine children, Holyfield and his family moved to Atlanta, where he began boxing at age 12 and won the Boys Club boxing tournament. At 13, he qualified to compete in his first Junior Olympics. By age 15, Holyfield became the Southeastern Regional Champion, winning this tournament and the Best Boxer Award. By 1984 he had a record of 160 wins and 14 losses, with 76 KO.
Holyfield started out professionally as a light heavyweight with a televised win in six rounds over Lionel Byarm at Madison Square Garden on November 15, 1984. On January 20, 1985 he won another six-round decision over Eric Winbush in Atlantic City, New Jersey. On March 13, he knocked out Fred Brown in the first round in Norfolk, Virginia, and on April 20, he knocked out Mark Rivera in two rounds in Corpus Christi, Texas.
Both he and his next opponent, Tyrone Booze, moved up to the cruiserweight division for their fight on July 20, 1985 in Norfolk, Virginia. Holyfield won an eight-round decision over Booze. Evander went on to knock out Rick Myers in the first round on August 29 in Holyfield’s hometown of Atlanta. On October 30 in Atlantic City he knocked out opponent Jeff Meachem in five rounds, and his last fight for 1985 was against Anthony Davis on December 21 in Virginia Beach, Virginia. He won by knocking out Davis in the fourth round.
He began 1986 with a knockout in three rounds over former world cruiserweight challenger Chisanda Mutti, and proceeded to beat Jessy Shelby and Terry Mims before being given a world title try by the WBA Cruiserweight Champion Dwight Muhammad Qawi. In what was called by The Ring as the best cruiserweight bout of the 1980s, Holyfield became world champion by defeating Qawi by a narrow 15 round split decision. He culminated 1986 with a trip to Paris, France, where he beat Mike Brothers by a knockout in three, in a non-title bout.
In 1987, he defended his title against former Olympic teammate and Gold medal winner Henry Tillman, who had beaten Mike Tyson twice as an amateur. He retained his belt, winning by seventh round knockout, and then went on to unify his WBA belt with the IBF belt held by Ricky Parkey, knocking Parkey out in three rounds. For his next bout, he returned to France, where he retained the title with an eleven round knockout against former world champion Ossie Ocasio. In his last fight of 1987, he offered Muhammad Qawi a rematch and, this time, he beat Qawi by a knockout in only four rounds.
1988 was another productive year for Holyfield; he started by becoming the first universally recognized World Cruiserweight Champion after defeating the Lineal & WBC Champion Carlos De Leónat Las Vegas. The fight was stopped after eight rounds.
After that fight, he announced he was moving up in weight to pursue the World Heavyweight Championship held by Tyson. His first fight as a Heavyweight took place on July 16, when he beat former Tyson rival James “Quick” Tillis by a knockout in five, in Lake Tahoe, Nevada (Tillis had gone the distance with Tyson). For his third and final bout of 1988, he beat former Heavyweight Champion Pinklon Thomas, also by knockout, in seven rounds.
Holyfield began 1989 meeting another former Heavyweight Champion, Michael Dokes. This fight would also be named one of the best fights of the 1980s by Ring magazine, as best heavyweight bout of the 1980s. Holyfield won by a knockout in the tenth round, and then he met Brazilian Champion Adilson Rodrigues, who lasted two rounds. His last fight of the 1980s was against Alex Stewart, a hard punching fringe contender. Stewart shocked Holyfield early, with quick, hard punches, but eventually fell in eight.
In 1990, Holyfield beat Seamus McDonagh, knocking him out in four rounds. By this time, Holyfield had been Ring Magazine’s Number 1 contender for two years and had yet to receive a shot at Tyson’s Heavyweight title.
Undisputed Heavyweight Champion: 1990–1992
Holyfield had been promised a title shot against Tyson in 1990. Before that fight could occur, in what many consider to be the biggest upset in boxing history, relatively unknown boxer, 29-year old, 231 lb. Buster Douglas defeated the 23-year old, 218 lb. Mike Tyson in ten rounds in Tokyo to become the new Undisputed Heavyweight Champion. Instead of fighting Tyson, Holyfield would be Douglas’ first title defense.
They met on October 25, 1990. Douglas came into the fight at 246 lb. and offered little in the fight against Holyfield, who was in great shape at 208 lb. In the third round Douglas tried to start a combination with a big right uppercut. Holyfield countered with a straight right hand that was lightning quick and Douglas went down for the count. Holyfield was the new undefeated, Undisputed Heavyweight Champion of the World. At the time of the knockout, Holyfield was ahead on all three judges’ scorecards, all seeing it 20–18 for Holyfield.
In his first defense, he beat former and future world champion George Foreman by unanimous decision in 12. The fight was billed as a “Battle for the Ages,” a reference to the age differential between the young undefeated champion (28 years old) and the much older George Foreman (42 years old). Holyfield weighed in at 208 pounds and Foreman weighed in at 257 pounds. Foreman lost the fight by a unanimous decision, but surprised many by lasting the whole 12 rounds against a much younger opponent, even staggering Holyfield a few times and knocking him off balance in the seventh round.
Then a deal was signed for him to defend his crown against Mike Tyson in November 1991. Tyson delayed the fight, claiming he was injured in training, but was then convicted for the rape ofDesiree Washington and sentenced to six years in prison, so the fight did not happen at that time. They would fight in 1996 (Holyfield won by a TKO in 11) and a rematch in 1997 (Holyfield won by disqualification in 3, after Tyson bit both of his ears).
Holyfield made his next defense in Atlanta against Bert Cooper, who surprised him with a very good effort. Holyfield scored the first knockdown of the fight against Cooper with a powerful shot to the body, but Cooper returned the favor with a good right hand that sent Holyfield against the ropes; while not an actual knockdown, referee Mills Lane gave Holyfield a standing 8-count. Having suffered the first technical knockdown of his professional career, Holyfield regained his composure quickly and administered a beating that left Cooper still on his feet, but unable to defend himself. Holyfield landed brutal power shots, culminated by repeated vicious uppercuts that would snap Cooper’s head back. Referee Mills Lane stopped the bout in the seventh.
In his first fight of 1992, he faced former world heavyweight champion Larry Holmes, who was 42 years old, and had just pulled off an upset against Ray Mercer. During the bout, Holyfield suffered the first scar of his career with a gash opening up over his eye, the result of Holmes’ elbow. The fight ended with a unanimous decision in favor of Holyfield.
Holyfield-Bowe I & II
In the beginning of a trilogy of bouts with the 25-year old Riddick Bowe, who had won a silver medal in the 1988 Olympics, in the Super Heavyweight division, he suffered his first defeat when Bowe won the undisputed title by a 12-round unanimous decision in Las Vegas. Round ten of that bout was named the Round of the Year by Ring Magazine. Holyfield was knocked down in round 11. He made the mistake of getting into a slugfest with the younger, bigger and stronger Bowe, leading to his defeat.
He began 1993 by beating Alex Stewart in a rematch, but this time over the 12-round unanimous distance.
Then came the rematch with Bowe on November 6, 1993. In what is considered by many sporting historians as one of the most bizarre moments in boxing’s history, during round seven the crowd got off their feet and many people started to run for cover and yell. Holyfield took his eyes off Bowe for one moment and then told Bowe to look up to the skies. What they saw was a man in a parachute flying dangerously close to them. The man almost entered the ring, but his parachute had gotten entangled in the lights and he landed on the ropes and apron of the ring, and he was then pulled into the crowd, where he was beaten by members of Bowe’s entourage. Bowe’s pregnant wife, Judy, fainted and had to be taken to the hospital from the arena. Twenty minutes later, calm was restored and Holyfield went on to recover his world heavyweight titles with a close 12 round majority decision. The man who parachuted down to the middle of the ring became known asThe Fan Man and the fight itself became known as the Fan Man Fight. His victory over Bowe that year helped Holyfield being named as ABC‘s Wide World of Sports Athlete of the Year for 1993.
Title loss to Moorer
His next fight, April 1994, he met former WBO Light Heavyweight Michael Moorer, who was attempting to become the first southpaw to become the universally recognised world heavyweight champion. He dropped Moorer in round two, but lost a twelve round majority decision. When he went to the hospital to have his shoulder checked, he was diagnosed with a heart condition and had to announce his retirement from boxing. It would later surface that the chairman of the medical advisory board for the Nevada State Athletic Commission believed his condition to be consistent with HGH use.
However, watching a television show hosted by preacher Benny Hinn, Holyfield says he felt his heart heal. He and Hinn subsequently became friends and he became a frequent visitor to Hinn’s crusades. In fact, during this time, Holyfield went to a Benny Hinn crusade in Philadelphia, had Hinn lay hands on him and gave Hinn a check for $265,000 after he was told he was healed. He then passed his next examination by the boxing commission. Holyfield would later state that his heart was misdiagnosed due to the morphine pumped into his body.
In 1995, Holyfield returned to the ring with a ten-round decision win versus former Olympic gold medalist, Ray Mercer. He was the first man to knock down Mercer.
Holyfield and Bowe then had their rubber match. Holyfield knocked Bowe down with a single left hook but Bowe prevailed by a knockout in eight. Holyfield would later claim that he contractedhepatitis before the fight.